Obama’s Climate Goals: Energy Revolution for Export

Barack Obama’s carbon dioxide reduction targets are an important call for climate protection. The United States can learn from the Germans when implementing its energy policy, says Stuttgarter Zeitung business editor, Werner Ludwig.

China and the U.S. are responsible for approximately 40 percent of global CO2 emissions, and as such, both countries play a key role in climate protection. Therefore, it is good news that the U.S. president wants to reduce CO2 emissions from electricity generation by more than one third below 2005 levels by 2030. This will be achieved by using fewer coal power plants and producing more green electricity. In four months, Obama will head to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris having set a good example. This increases the chance that China will step up its climate protection efforts.

Of course, one must wait and see if Obama can prevail against resistance from the coal lobby and Republicans, many of whom deny a link between CO2 emissions and global warming. There may still be cutbacks to his plan. The picture is also marred by Obama’s choice of 2005 as the base year. CO2 emissions by power plants have already dropped 15 percent since 2005, and a further reduction of only 15 percent would be required. But psychology plays a role, even in climate policy. A little marketing can’t hurt if it serves its purpose of convincing other countries of the urgency of climate protection.

Given the conditions in the U.S. – rich in sun and wind, a lot of space for wind and solar farms and high potential for savings in terms of per capita consumption – more ambitious goals can be attained. It is crucial that the United States finds its way in this matter. If Obama’s plan were to be realistic, it could mean that Germany’s energy transition, often ridiculed abroad, would be a small but successful export. The Americans could have the advantage of being able to learn from Germany’s mistakes, such as the improved coordination of green power production and grid expansion. In learning from Germany’s successes, U.S. states should be left to decide which technologies they will adapt to reach their climate goals. America could thereby spare itself the many detailed regulations that made energy transition in Germany unnecessarily complicated and likely more expensive than necessary.

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  1. The source here includes this: “CO2 emissions by power plants have already dropped 15 percent since 2005, and a further reduction of only 15 percent would be required.” and goes on to assert that marketing can be helpful. How true.

    Will the human species ever get to the point that marketing isn’t needed and fact and logic alone will suffice? The fact that marketing is effective reflects the basic human biology of cognition. Humans are far more intuitive-emotional than unbiased-logical. That is just what the science overwhelmingly says.

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